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Preview: Africa Unchained

Emergent Africa

Inspired by George Ayittey's book 'Africa Unchained'.

Updated: 2017-07-28T10:50:06.715-04:00


Juliana Kasumu - Photographer


A Konbini profile of her latest show Irun Kiko:
image via

Are robots are set to take Africa’s manufacturing jobs even before it has enough


More on what is becoming a worrying theme. Lynsey Chutel writing in Quartz:
It was supposed to be Africa’s century, then the robots arrived.
More here

Traditional indigenous doctors are helping in the battle against maternal mortality in Bolivia


In Narratively:
...Indigenous women around the world are torn between embracing modern approaches to childbirth and preserving age-old traditions. This surprisingly simple solution could save millions of moms.
More here

The CFA Franc: French Monetary Imperialism in Africa


From Africa at LSE:
Ndongo Samba Sylla argues that the CFA franc – officially created on 26 December 1945 by a decree of General de Gaulle – used across much of Africa today is a colonial relic. For those hoping to export competitive products, obtain affordable credit, work for the integration of continental trade, or fight for an Africa free from imperialist control, the CFA franc is an anachronism demanding orderly and methodical elimination.
...The CFA franc is a good currency for those who benefit from it: the major French and overseas corporations, the executives of the zone’s central banks, the elites wishing to repatriate wealth acquired legally or otherwise, heads of state unwilling to upset France etc. But for those hoping to export competitive products, obtain affordable credit, find work, work for the integration of continental trade, or fight for an Africa free from colonial relics, the CFA franc is an anachronism demanding orderly and methodical elimination.
More here

'Inxeba' - A film


From City Press:
The queer Xhosa film rocking Durban
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Blacksmithing - Awka, Nigeria


Original makers - A worthy addition to the engineering curricula:
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Okwui Okpokwasili's Bronx Gothic


via Film Forum:
Directed by Andrew Rossi

Based on the performance written and performed by Okwui Okpokwasili
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"since the 18th century there are few examples of economies that got to high income status without a strong manufacturing sector."


In the FT by Louis Kuijs Head of Asia Economics at Oxford Economics:
...the productivity-related benefits of manufacturing are particularly pronounced compared to raw commodity production and export. Moreover, most raw commodity exporters have suffered from ‘Dutch disease’ symptoms such as unhelpful real exchange rate appreciation. And many commodity-oriented EMs have also been afflicted by the ‘natural resource curse’, with governments and business focusing on rent-seeking rather than raising competitiveness and productivity...[more]

Examining Indigenous knowledge - from Native America to Ghana


CBC reports:
A Cape Breton man has just returned from a working visit to Ghana, where he shared the history of the Mi'kmaq people and the concept of blending Indigenous and Western ways of managing nature.

Clifford Paul is the moose management co-ordinator at the Unama'ki Institute of Natural Resources, an organization that bills itself as Cape Breton's Mi'kmaq voice on natural resources and the environment.

In Ghana, Paul presented at a workshop about Indigenous knowledge that drew people from all over Africa...[more]

#100AfricanWomenWriters: 10. Deolinda Rodríguez de Almeida


From Bookshy:
Deolinda Rodríguez de Almeida lived an extremely short, but rich life. Known as the ‘Mother of the Revolution’- Angola’s Revolution – Deolinda was an Angolan nationalist, heroine, militant, writer and translator - who also taught, wrote poetry and worked as a radio host...[more]

G20: The second Berlin war against Africa?


Yash Tandon writing in Pambazuka:
The G20’s Compact with Africa is meant to force open African doors to European and generally western investments. African governments have been told in no uncertain terms that for them to receive foreign direct investments, they must improve conditions for such investments. Using its financial muscle the west (through Berlin) is waging war against Africa.
More here

‘Bacteria are living organisms that you can work with – almost in a painterly kind of way’ - Anna Dumitriu


Anna McNay writes:
image via
Not many artists would want to work with bacteria, smelly faecal transplants or anthrax, but Dumitriu is at the crossover between science and art, as happy in a microbiology lab as she is in a studio. Here, she talks about her process

Quranic Indoctrination Poses More Danger to Children than Social Media – By Leo Igwe


Leo Igwe writes:
It was an opportunity to counter Islamic fanaticism but the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, blew it away. He ignored the elephant in the room – Quranic indoctrination of children. Instead, the head of muslims in Nigeria lashed out at the social media and described the various programs as morally corrupting to young muslims. At a Quranic competition in Sokoto, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III has warned children against the dangers of social media applications such as facebook, twitter and whatsapp. He told them that these online devices could divert their attention from meaningful engagements such as their studies and the recitation of the Koran. The social media, he pointed out, would get children to indulge in immoral behavior and prevent the females from fulfilling their roles as mothers and caregivers...[more]

Seven charts that show how the developed world is losing its edge


In the FT:
The gap between rich and poor nations narrows as the sources of dynamism in high-income economies slow, writes Martin Wolf
More here

Of “Institutions” & Mob “Justice” in Ghana


Bright Simmons writes:
A look at data and precedents does not suggest that trust in hard institutions must grow considerably before deviant attitudes such as suspect lynching can be changed.

There is nothing that shows that suspects are more likely to be lynched in neighbourhoods with high incidence of crime, which could then be interpreted to mean high grievance levels due to disappointments in policing...[more]

The oil age is over ... and a modest proposal for #Nigeria


Andrew S Nevin writes:
WTI price has been dropping fast the last month, and this week reached about $43, its lowest level since since mid-2016. We have had oil in the $50s for most of the last 9 months, almost reaching $58, but those days seem like a long time ago now...[more]

Why do opposition coalitions succeed or fail?


Nicole Beardsworth writing in African Arguments:
Some sweep to power. Many more crumble. Why? And which way will Zimbabwe’s 2018 coalition go?
For the past two decades, the phenomenon of the opposition coalition has gained growing traction and interest across Africa...[more]

Stitched up by robots: the threat to emerging economies


The FT reports:
Advances in automation could derail hopes of creating millions of low-paid jobs in sectors such as textiles
More here

“The same people who betrayed Mobutu are now with Kabila, telling him he’s God, telling him he’s whatever. It’s bullshit.” - Moïse Katumbi #DRC


James Wan writing in African Arguments:
For a man many see as the natural heir to the presidency of the vast and populous Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Moïse Katumbi cuts a fairly reserved figure. A gentle and sometimes bashful tycoon-turned-politician, one gets the sense that if he were his biblical namesake, his instinct would be to strike a behind-the-scenes deal with the Red Sea rather than command it to part with booming authority.

Whatever his approach, however, it has put him in good stead. The son of a Jewish father from Greece and a Congolese mother, Katumbi, now a youthful 52, first made his mark in business. He inherited a role in the already-successful family company in Katanga province, but expanded its activities in mining and logistics. All of which helped make him one of the Congo’s richest people...[more]

Tyranny of the Majority in Cameroon


Peter Wuteh Vakunta writes:
The recent civil disobedience that transpired in the Republic of Cameroon during the latter part of 2016 and spilled over into 2017 has caused a ripple effect in the two English-speaking regions of the nation, namely the Northwest and Southwest regions...[more]

A Brief History of Fufu Pounding


Moses März writing in the Chronic:
In July 2016, the Kumasi Polytechnic presented the K-POLY FUFU MAMA, the latest machine promising to ease the labour-heavy preparation of Ghana’s national dish. The selected audience of fufu pounders, connoisseurs and chop bar owners present at the launch covered by TV3 is shown as enthusiastic recipients of this Ghanaian technological breakthrough. The inventors of the machine rehearse the ever-same argument: K-Poly is more hygienic, less burdensome, less noisy and more nature-friendly than the traditional pounding with mortar and pestle. And even more importantly: with K-Poly, fufu is ready in less than five minutes...[more]

An Ancient Cure for Alzheimer’s?


Pagan Kennedy writing in the NYTimes:
In 2011, Ben Trumble emerged from the Bolivian jungle with a backpack containing hundreds of vials of saliva. He had spent six weeks following indigenous men as they tramped through the wilderness, shooting arrows at wild pigs. The men belonged to the Tsimane people, who live as our ancestors did thousands of years ago — hunting, foraging and farming small plots of land. Dr. Trumble had asked the men to spit into vials a few times a day so that he could map their testosterone levels. In return, he carried their kills and helped them field-dress their meat — a sort of roadie to the hunters...[more]

Decolonizing philosophy


Ryan M. Nefdt writing in Africa is a Country:
Many philosophers consider their field to be the mother of all disciplines. The popular picture is that philosophy, like a fertile womb, gives birth to other sciences and fields of inquiry which then move on with their own methodology and concerns (and they never call their parents!). Naturally, if there is any credence to this methodology, then decolonization of the curriculum or academia needs to start with philosophy...[more]

The African trade revolution quietly afoot - Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).


David Luke writing in African Arguments: African trade revolution is also quietly afoot. The innovation is the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). A boldly ambitious endeavour, the CFTA seeks to combine the economies of 55 African states under a pan-African free trade area comprising 1.2 billion people in a market with a combined GDP of $2.19 trillion.

Announced in 2012 by the African Union (AU) heads of state and government, the CFTA is the first flagship initiative of the AU’s Agenda 2063. It will reduce tariffs between African countries, introduce mechanisms to address the often more substantial non-tariff barriers, liberalise service sectors, and facilitate cross-border trade. This will also help rationalise the overlapping free trade areas that already exist within Africa.

The CFTA negotiations are complex. The 55 participating countries span a diversity of economic and geographic configurations. 15 are landlocked, while 6 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The biggest (Nigeria) has a GDP of $568 billion, while the smallest (Sao Tome & Principe) a GDP of just $337 million.
More here

Africa’s art scene is set to take Asia’s place in the spotlight


Margot Mottaz writes in South China Morning Post:
African artists are winning the hearts of galleries, institutions and collectors the world over
As we look at the art world, 2017 will undoubtedly belong to Africa. With a young and emerging scene waiting to blossom, it is set to take Asia’s coveted place in the spotlight, winning over the hearts of galleries, institutions and collectors the world over...[more]